Lenovo ThinkPad W520 (428426M) mobile workstation
Lenovo ThinkPad W520 (428426M) review: A semi-rugged laptop that's designed for professionals
- Excellent screen quality
- Chassis is very sturdy
- Good performance
- Touchpad could be better
- Lid could be more rugged
- Only 1-year warranty as standard
The ThinkPad W520 isn't a typical laptop. It should only be considered if you're a professional in need of a strongly-built and well-performing laptop that can help you get your work done efficiently. It's not perfect, but it has stacks of features and supplies good overall user comfort.
Price$ 4,147.00 (AUD)
The Lenovo ThinkPad W520 (428426M) is a 15.6in workstation laptop that's designed for users who want fast performance for graphics, video, design or programming work. It has a typically squarish design and a lot of high-end features — including a 15.6in, Full HD screen and inbuilt colour calibration. It is an expensive investment, but if you need a powerful and well-built laptop with which to make your money then this might not be a hurdle for you.
Specifications and performance
While the ThinkPad W520 is available in different configurations, we looked at the 428426M, which is kitted with a Second Generation Intel Core i7-2620M CPU, a Full HD (1920x1080) LED-backlit screen, NVIDIA Quadro 1000M graphics (with 2GB RAM and Optimus switching technology), 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (it supports up to 16GB) and a 500GB, 3Gbps, 7200rpm hard drive. Initially, this configuration didn't perform well at all in our tests and the machine delivered speeds that were under half what we expected. Changing power profiles didn't make things run quicker, but disabling and re-enabling Optimus graphics seemed to do the trick.
The ThinkPad W520's Core i7-2620M runs at 2.7GHz, and it has two cores and Hyper-Threading. It helped the laptop to a time of 38sec in our Blender 3D test (using four threads) and 46sec in our iTunes MP3 encoding test. Both of these times are slower than the Dell Vostro 3550, which we're comparing here because it uses the same CPU, but this doesn't mean that the W520 is sluggish. It was only 1sec slower than the Dell in Blender and 2sec slower in iTunes. However, the ThinkPad posted a much better time in our video transcoding test. Using AutoGordianKnot, our test DVD file was turned into a 1.45GB Xvid file in only 46min. This is 5min better than what the Dell achieved in the same test.
In our hard drive transfer test, in which we copy 2.12GB worth of 2-50MB files from one location on the hard drive to another, the 7200rpm hard drive recorded a rate of 31.64 megabytes per second. This isn't the fastest rate we've seen from a single 7200rpm, 500GB drive, but anything over 30MBps is generally a good result in this test. The hard drive is mounted in rubber dampers and it's monitored by a motion sensor, which parks the heads when it detects excessive movement. You can order the ThinkPad with a 160GB Intel SSD instead, which will boost the performance of the laptop, eliminate drive noise, as well as slightly reduce its heat and weight — but you'll have to fork over an extra $480.
The ThinkPad W250's NVIDIA Quadro 1000M graphics adapter has 2GB of GDDR5 RAM and it recorded a score of 8299 in 3DMark06. This shows that it has plenty of guts when it comes to processing real-time 3D graphics, but it's not designed for gaming. It's designed to accelerate design and graphics applications such as AutoCAD, Photoshop and 3dsMAX. A full list of certified applications can be found on NVIDIA's Web site.
We appeared to have some problems with graphics card's Optimus feature though. When we initially ran our benchmarks with Optimus enabled in the BIOS, all of our benchmarks ran a lot slower than we expected (despite choosing the maximum power profile). As soon as we disabled Optimus and then re-enabled it, the benchmark results were more along the lines of what we expected. You can customise Optimus through the installed NVIDIA driver, and tell it which programs should use the Quadro graphics card and which ones should use integrated graphics.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 2 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 3 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 4 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 5 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- MSI Wins Computex Best Choice Award 2017 for a Record-Breaking 5 Products
- Surface Pro is Microsoft's long-awaited Surface Pro 4 upgrade, restyled as a laptop
- Google explains why Android apps still aren't on Chromebooks
- HP's Spectre x2 may be the Surface Pro killer we've been waiting for
- Asus ROG teases the world's first AMD Ryzen laptop
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCInfrastructure Project ManagerNSW
- FTClient Onboarding ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst l GROUP LIFE INSURANCE l SydneyVIC
- FTIT Support / Desktop SupportSA
- FTICT SpecialistNSW
- CCPega DeveloperVIC
- FTScrum Master/Project ManagerQLD
- CCSenior Procurement SpecialistVIC
- FT.NET DeveloperNSW
- CCChange ManagerWA
- FTLooking for Lead Solution ArchitectACT
- FTTechnical Solution ArchitectSA
- FTDevelopment and Delivery Manager - CloudACT
- FTNetwork EngineerQLD
- FTNetwork EngineerWA
- TPInstructional DesignerVIC
- CCFront End DeveloperQLD
- FTDeployment Engineer / Field Service EngineerQLD
- TPAEM DeveloperNSW
- CCIdentity Access Management - Business AnalystVIC
- TPETL DeveloperNSW
- CCSAP ISU Functional ConsultantVIC
- TPSenior Project ManagerQLD
- FTSplunk Software Developer | 6mth ContractVIC